Medicare Open Enrollment Period 2020: What You Need to Know

Kat Casna
Licensed Insurance Agent and Medicare Expert Writer
December 10, 2019

Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7 each year. During this period, millions of Medicare recipients evaluate their current coverage and make changes that will affect their health care costs and coverage beginning in January of the following year.

Considering making changes to your coverage this fall or just want to learn more about this enrollment period?

What is the Medicare Open Enrollment period?

Medicare Open Enrollment is also known as the Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP. During this time, you can make changes to your existing Medicare coverage.

  • Switch from Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Add or change Medicare prescription drug plans
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Medicare Open Enrollment period 2020: What else do you need to know?

The Medicare program changes a little bit each year. Knowing what's new in 2020 could help you navigate the many choices you'll have during this year's Open Enrollment.

1. Medicare Supplement Plans F and C are still available

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will no longer allow newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in Medigap plans F and C, these plans aren’t disappearing completely. If you become eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020 (and that’s everyone who can use the 2020 fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period), you can apply for these plans now and in the future—even if you aren’t already enrolled in Medigap.

If you become eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to enroll in Plans F or C now or in the future.

2. The Part D ‘donut hole’ will close

Beginning in 2020, the coverage gap for Part D plans won’t exist anymore. Previously, beneficiaries would see increased out-of-pocket costs after the value of the covered prescriptions they’ve purchased reaches $3,820. Starting January 1, 2020, beneficiaries will pay just 25% of drug costs in this coverage gap or “donut hole”—or about the same as what they paid before entering the donut hole.

Learn more about the Part D coverage gap.

3. Changes in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans

Every year, insurers make small changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Typically, these changes include changes in premiums, deductibles, and other costs. Keep in mind, the Medicare program may not finalize these changes until right before fall Open Enrollment.

See the latest Medicare premiums and deductibles now or come back in October. We’ll share finalized changes as soon as they become available.

Refresh your general Medicare knowledge

While the Medicare program changes a bit each year, much of it stays the same. It never hurts to refresh your Medicare knowledge. We recommend starting with an overview of Medicare. This Medicare Glossary could come in handy, too, as you read through insurance documents.

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Do you have to renew your plan?

If you’re happy with your Medicare coverage, there’s no need to do anything during Medicare Open Enrollment. Provided your current plan is available next year, your coverage will auto-renew.

Although you could let Open Enrollment pass right on by without having to lift a finger, we recommend doing two things this fall to optimize your Medicare coverage.

1. Open all Medicare mail

If your plan is discontinued next year, you'll receive a notice in the mail. If you miss this notice and fail to enroll in other coverage, you could lose your coverage.

If your plan continues in the following year, your insurer will send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Look over your ANOC carefully to make sure your plan will still meet your needs next year. If not, it's time to consider other options.

2. Shop around

No matter how you feel about your current plan, it’s usually a good idea to do a little shopping around during Open Enrollment. Since plans and premiums change annually, options that fit your situation even better than your current coverage could pop up. But if you don’t check, you’ll never know.

What if you want to change your plan after Medicare Open Enrollment?

If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare Open Enrollment and your needs later change, you may not have to wait until next fall to switch plans.

In 2019, the Medicare program established the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP). This period runs from January 1 through March 31 and, during that time, you can change Medicare Advantage plans or switch back to Original Medicare. Here’s the catch: You must already have Medicare Advantage to use this period. You can’t use this enrollment period if you started the year with Original Medicare.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period replaces the old Medicare Disenrollment period, which only allowed beneficiaries to switch back to Original Medicare.

What the Medicare Open Enrollment period isn’t

While you can accomplish a lot during Open Enrollment, there are some situations this period isn't meant to accommodate. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have created different enrollment periods for people in other circumstances, including the following:

  • You’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time
  • You want a Medicare Supplement plan
  • You want to apply for Medicaid
  • You lost coverage unexpectedly

If you fit into any of these situations, learn about other Medicare enrollment periods.

Are you ready for the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment period?

Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15 and runs until December 7. While that seems like plenty of time to shop around, weigh your options, and enroll, it’s less than two months, and the time can fly by—especially with holidays.

Prepare for fall Medicare Open Enrollment by narrowing your plan choices. Read up on how to choose the right Medicare plan.

Or call the number below. A licensed sales agent can answer your Medicare questions, help you weigh your options, and start your application.

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Frequently asked questions

Is this open Enrollment for 2019 or 2020?

Medicare Open Enrollment 2020 refers to the enrollment period that occurs in the fall of 2019 because,  during this time, beneficiaries enroll in coverage that will begin on January 1, 2020.

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Content on this site has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the United States Government, any state Medicare agency, or any private insurance agency (collectively "Medicare System Providers"). Eligibility.com is a DBA of Clear Link Technologies, LLC and is not affiliated with any Medicare System Providers.

Kat Casna
Written by
Kat Casna
Kathryn is a Medicare and geriatric specialist who has appeared on Baby Boomers, OppLoans, and Best Company. Her readers don’t need a degree in government-speak to get the right coverage because Kathryn sifts through Medicare’s parts, plans, and premiums to distill only the most useful information. Her favorite place in the world is a hammock that swings peacefully between two crabapple trees somewhere in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.
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